Dalot: Minutestatic

Maria Papadomanolaki's Dalot project is hard to pin down, but I'm guessing that's exactly how she likes it. Certainly the ten tracks on Minutestatic, the sound artist's sophomore album and follow-up to 2010's Loop Over Latitudes, contain elements associated with multiple genres—ambient soundscaping, post-rock, shoegaze, among them—, but her mercurial mini-symphonies typically elude easy capture. The guitar figures and insistent rhythms animating “Missing Pieces,” for example, suggest post-rock, but Dalot sidesteps such straightforward labeling by cloaking the piece in layers of vocal atmospherics. And though “The Blue Car” likewise weaves treated guitars and beats into a psychedelic shoegaze-post-rock amalgam, she's a shaper of sound above all else, with her focus on sculpting the various sounds within a given piece into a writhing, oft-unsettling design.

She could be characterized as a prototypical bedroom producer, someone who works alone and therefore gives full and free reign to her whims, artistic impulses, and flights of fancy (for the record, n5MD head Mike Cadoo also supplies bass and drums to three tracks). What results is a highly personalized and richly textured contribution to the experimental electronic genre, but one with a marked focus on the darker end of the spectrum. “Cause & Effect” ensnares the listener within a intricate spider's web of gauzy electric guitar swirl, with progressive intensification pushing the material to a state of near-psychotic frenzy. Had someone told me the guitar-based soundscape “Breathe Your Soul In And Say Goodbye (For Him)” and turbulent ambient setting “Investigation” were the work of Simon Scott or Rafael Anton Irisarri (aka The Sight Below) I wouldn't have batted an eye. Dalot wisely offsets an occasional gothic plunge into the Underworld (e.g., “A Letter”) with an occasional hopeful moment, the gentle guitar meditation “Canyon” one such example, and Papadomanolaki ends the project on an uplifting note by giving the title track a driving house skip. Born from late-night improvisations, Minutestatic's material is suggestive of psychic disturbance and destability: rather than singing sweetly, guitars moan and shudder within claustrophobic gloomscapes (e.g., “In Silence”), and one ultimately comes away from the album more disturbed than soothed; it wouldn't be an exaggeration to state that there are moments when the material feels like it's offering a glimpse into madness.

October 2011